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Feature: 12 Days of Christmas - Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate Devours Time and Pushes Boundaries

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Wii U and 3DS cross-play brings Hunters together

Monster Hunter Tri on the Wii was a standout not just for its epic scale and unique style, but for its ability to bring owners of the system together in a solid, cohesive online component; that was a rarity. With honourable exceptions such as Mario Kart Wii, many titles on Nintendo's last-gen system either had primitive but perfectly functional online play, or unfortunately suffered from aggravating lag or connection issues. Tri gave Wii owners a taste of the online revolution taking place on the Xbox 360 and PS3 with text chat, the little-used voice chat — because Wii Speak was, well, not that popular — and lobby systems aligned with fairly reliable online hunts. With Capcom regularly serving up quests and challenges to take on, it added immeasurably to the overall experience.

And so Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate on the Wii U and 3DS has certainly been a high point of 2013, with Capcom not only enhancing the visuals of the original but also adding a substantial amount of content; this is no lazy upgrade with few additions, but a release packed with enough extras to keep newcomers and series veterans questing for months and, possibly, years.

To start with the Wii U version, the HD visual upgrade — though it has moments of crudity — adds a fresh dynamic, making the most epic and tough battles even more intense. Most importantly, the 30-40 hour single player campaign of the Wii original is essentially doubled, which not only adds a dizzying number of quests but also all of the accompanying upgrades and items that are expected with each fresh hunt. The amount of new content is boggling, and dedicated fans — we'll even make an exception and use that term hardcore — are likely still chasing down that armour they desperately want. The sheer depth of this experience outside of hunting — with crafting, buffs and more — is mind boggling.

The additional monsters include newcomers, but the bulk are upgraded and brought across from old entries in the series that may be more familiar to Sony gamers previous from PS2 and PSP entries; in that respect, this is an ideal introduction to the series for many, while Miiverse and the excellent Wii U web browser are the perfect tools for hunters to learn about monster weaknesses and drop percentages.

The key to what makes Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate a terrific offering on Wii U is online multiplayer. Like on the Wii there are four player hunts, but the improved hardware has led to noticeable enhancements, for which Capcom certainly deserves plenty of credit. The lobby and pre-hunt area has been streamlined to be far more intuitive, making it easier to find others and jump into a match — which is also helped by the European and North America servers being combined. The use of the GamePad is terrific, meanwhile; in addition to instant customisable messages it's natural to type text on the touch screen, while the built-in microphone is used for voice chat. When you add the game's excellent and — again — customisable touch screen panels that can show maps and more, the controller is utilised in the best possible way.

It's when hunting with others, whether relative newcomers or savvy veterans, that this title takes on new life.

The 3DS version of Ultimate, meanwhile, is an impressive technical accomplishment on the system, let down only by the absence of that online play and moments where the environments don't fit the smaller screens in an optimal way. It's an excellent experience, nevertheless, with camera control possible with a virtual D-pad on the touch screen but far more suited to the Circle Pad Pro / XL; the auto-stereoscopic 3D also adds an extra dynamic.

In what was a first for the system and may ultimately be a rare example, the two versions can also be played together. Though local multiplayer only — unless you utilise an app with a Wii online dongle that requires an extra Wii U anyway — it provides extra incentive for friends to meet-up, with the connection between the portable and home console being practically lag-free. Seeing your 3DS playing colleague on the TV and vice-versa is a neat moment, and something that will hopefully happen again — fans must certainly be hoping for a HD accompaniment to a potential Monster Hunter 4 localisation.

Another vital part of the equation for the most dedicated is the save sharing across both versions. Utilising an app, it takes around five minutes to move a save from one system to the other, but is useful for those that want to continue some quests and grinding on the 3DS while away from the Wii U. It's unique to this game at present, once again showing that Capcom was keen to make the most of the title's origins as a 3DS game (Monster Hunter 3G in Japan), while utilising the Wii U for the HD version.

When it comes to value for money and a challenge suited to experienced, committed gamers, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is a terrific option on Wii U and/or 3DS. It's also set the standard for online gaming on the Wii U, while showing that with the right tools integration between Nintendo's two systems is certainly possible. We just hope the series will continue in the West.

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User Comments (48)



Tsurii said:

I really start thinking, that I'm the only, who will never want a Wii U port of MH4...and I'm waiting since its very first announcement for it and only own a Wii U. It was really cool to play Ultimate on Wii U, but it wasn't as good as I wanted it to be. (starting with the difficulty...seriously Capcom. Remember when MH games were REALLY hardcore?)

I don't want to sound butthurt, but I really just want either MH4 on 3DS (even if I'm forced to buy one - there's plenty other stuff I'd enjoy, but - at least atm - I'm "console purist" and not too much into handheld gaming) or a new entry, entirely made and optimised for Wii U.



Windy said:

I'm still mad you had to own a Wii-U to play this online with 3DS. I just might not forget that next time around! Who am I kidding I will buy the next one



Tsurii said:

@Windy Well, if MH4 comes to the west (and I think chances for that to happen are rather high this time), you'll be able to play online (with "just" a 3DS)



ollietaro said:

I'm still playing the 3DS version reaching closely to 700 hours. Still getting my donkey kicked by Jhen Moron. My Hunter rank is 72 which I reached SOLO, everyone. I'm trying to find people to help me finish the 8* port quests seeing as I can't fight two monsters at once solo.
Please watch the profanity — TBD



tedko said:

This game is easily the best value for money of any game I've ever played. I can't think of any other game in which I've logged anywhere close to the amount of time I've played MH3U (well over 100 hours already) and I still want to keep playing! The cross platform multiplayer is awesome and something I hope to see in more games. Well done Capcom. Now when is MH4 coming to the West?



ICHIkatakuri said:

@Freakazoid yes yes yes! I have put over 250hrs into this game now, not many manage those kind of numbers for me. Final fantasy VII and dark souls did, so MH3U is in good company.



Luna-Harmony said:

So many games came out at the time i still need to pick this up. I played the demo though and it was amazing.



Norse said:

Amazing game, however it got rather lonely not being able to play online on the 3ds without a WiiU.



rjejr said:

I was just thinking this morning that Nintendo needs a cross platform game between the 3DS anf Wii U. I knew you could transfer your save but I didnt know about the multiplayer in MH. I wad thinking more along the lines of FFCC when you needed to hook up 4 Gameboys to 1 Gamecube. Why bother getting multple Gamepads when the 3DS should suffice? I mean it should suffice, shouldnt it? I think Sony -via mM - did something with the PS3 and Vita for some special LBP levels. I know lag is always the first thingpeople say to poo-poo the idea but if people in the US and EU can play together why cant people in the same room? And I read this as Capcom has already almost done it. Maybe Nintendo can oort FFCC as a test?

We have three 3DS in my house - four if I can find a Zelda bundle at Target - and 1 Wii U and I really think they should be used together for more thsn transfering Miis.



tedko said:

@rjejr When playing MH3U with two 3DS´s and a wii u I haven´t noticed any lag. There are a few very minor glitches when playing this game multiplayer but they don't really affect gameplay. It really is great to play this game with a few friends in the same room. I'm a big big fan of local multiplayer.



AVahne said:

You're not the only one. Because of MH Gen 3, everyone now expects every handheld MH game to appear on a home console in HD. Portable 3rd HD was really only made because of the HD remake craze for PS3, while 3G HD was probably only made to capitalize on a new console. I don't want Capcom wasting resources on yet another upscaled port that won't really benefit them anywhere in the world when they can be working on an MH built ground up for the Wii U and/or PS4.



Megumi said:

Love the S. Barioth pic, lol.
If it wasn't for Tri showing up on the Wii, I probably wouldn't even be here commenting/reading about Ultimate, lol



ArkOne77 said:

For anyone who hasn't picked the Wii U version up yet....If you are in NA, It is on sale at Gamestop right now for $19.99(new). Just a headz up!



vattodev said:

@AVahne I don't think there will ever be a MH built from ground up for HD consoles. MH in japan sells A LOT on the handheld market. Not so much on the console market. The game is designed for local co-op, not for online co-op, though it changed with MH4.



wober2 said:

i really hope there is a new one for wiiu. perhaps one with a different open world level design.



TromboneGamer said:

Very little comes close to the breadth of content this game (and the series) has. It's my goty as well that's for sure.



Of_Folsense said:

Definitely one of the best games for Wii U, and well suited for the system, too.
Once you start hunting higher rank monsters it does get difficult.



Tsurii said:

@Of_Folsense well...I soloed the whole thing up until rank 120'n'something. 300h in...and G rank got kinda difficult, but only because of low defense. I'm almost always relying purely on evasion and fast combos and rarely get hit. I could imagine it's more difficult for a bulkier playstyle and especially for newcomers, but for someone who's experienced the broken hitboxes of first gen it's super easy to just. go through the guild quests like a warm knife through butter



SavoirFaire said:

I tried the demo for this on the wii u and just could not get into it for the life of me. Is this essentially a fighting game with the monsters acting as a "boss" with varying tactics to take them down?



Senario said:

@SavoirFaire It is an action game where fighting monsters is about learning about what they do and how to respond to it with your weapon of choice. It is a lot of fun if you want a challenge. Playing by yourself is doable, playing with friends just makes it fun for all.

It has a little bit of MMO style although it is nowhere near as grindy or impossible to get what you need for a set of armor or weapons. Now if you were making sets for over half the weapons in the game...well that'll take you a while.

The cool thing about the game is that it has immense replayability where changing your weapon actually makes the game play in a way that it feels like a whole new experience.



AVahne said:

The series started on the PS2 with online play, so saying it's built for local-play isn't exactly correct. Also, never say never! (though I guess I just did...)



JaxonH said:

Really? I already own it (I'm like 600 hours in at HR73) but I'm giving my brother the Zelda Wii U bundle for Christmas and am trying to get him into this game. He's convinced the game isn't that great because he played an hour or two on MHTri for Wii, and gave up due to boredom. He never even fought the Great Jaggi! That's the only problem this game has- it opens up too slowly and many gamers stop playing before it they realize how great it is.



hYdeks said:

I just started playing this game 4 days ago, and I absolutely love it, especially online ^-^



Jimmy_G_Buckets said:

I need to play this again. It's been months. Hoping for an expansion pack but know that's highly unlikely. But after defeating every quest and acquiring all the armor and weapons I wanted to get. I lost interest



ArkOne77 said:

@JaxonH . Yes. If you go to the home page and click on weekly ad at the top. On page 2 youll see it right in the middle of the page. I bought it when it came out and never played it because I was working so much. Buying it for my little brother so we can be noobs together. ( both new to the franchise) Have some free time during the holidays. Its going to be Monster Hunter & Windwaker hopefully. Can't wait!



FineLerv said:

Love these "12 days" articles. I can't help think that a link to all the previous articles in the series would help those people jumping in mid way.



FineLerv said:

@JaxonH "I'm giving my brother the Zelda Wii U bundle for Christmas and am trying to get him into this game. "

You just reached Brother Level 1000000!



Zombie_Barioth said:

Yea, thats always been a problem for the series. They open so slowly that many people who aren't used to this type of game gets bored easily. I've even heard people complain about early monsters being boring/easy, thats only a few hours in and sadly thats still longer than many games out there today. But then I making you feel like a rookie rising up from nothing while keeping things satisfyingly paced isn't easy either.

You might just want to have your brother jump right into multiplayer with you and maybe a few willing friends and just work through that way a while if you haven't already. If he gets a taste of that he might be more willing to tough it out. When I started MH3 I only played the campaign long enough to get a hang of things and some basic gear.



Flash-Jordan said:

On the 3ds game the text font is awful, it really hurts your eyes, i ve only played it a couple of times as a result an am looking to sell it



Tsurii said:

@Of_Folsense haha thanks
I would love to help you out with G rank stuff, but my router's messing with me and the servers and I more or less "abandoned" online MP, because it's really frustrating if you're only able to play with like 5% of the whole community.

It's still really fun to get my friend over and just grind the whole night though. We're not even going after specific armor at this point and that is exactly, what MH and other good multiplayer games are and should be all about: plain fun with friends (and strangers - if the damn connection would work >.<)



Tsurii said:

@jord91 It's possible to fix that. Try to disable the 3D effect in the game's options and put the slider all the way down. Imho it really helps.



Gamer_Natalie said:

Hopefully some day Japan realizes they'll make more money if they make their titles English to T-T



tedko said:

@SavoirFaire I also found the demo totally uninteresting, but I picked up the 3DS version when it was 20$ on the eshop because a friend wanted to play multiplayer. Now around 120 hours in I'm totally hooked. There's much more to this game than the demo shows. Essentially yes, all you do is fight large monsters but there's so much to consider in building up your character's weapons, armor, and so many items to use, it becomes very addictive. It's fantastic as a multiplayer co-op game.



Discostew said:

Between the 3DS and Wii U version, which do you all prefer? Right now, I can get the Wii U version for $20 from Gamestop (odd that the 3DS version there is $40 still). While a great value, I do find that I practically take my 3DS everywhere, mainly because I also program MM2PTC with Petit Computer, so having access to the game anytime could be considered just as good. I played the demos long ago, and felt my hands when playing the 3DS demo were a bit cramped (no CPP). At that time, however, I have the regular 3DS and had since upgraded to the XL without trying again. So, I'm going to try both demo versions again, even though people say the demo doesn't do the game justice to the retail.



erv said:

Still playing this on my wii U along with a boatload of online quests next to my never ending pikmin run. My 2 year old son loves these games.



Discostew said:

Hah, not one day later, I check, and sure enough, the 3DS version has also been dropped to $20 alongside the Wii U version. Question is, would this be worth having both copies? Or, would it be better to wait for MH4?

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